Welcome to our “Lift You Up” series, where we feature individuals who are lifting up the communities around them through their health and wellness talents and efforts. In this series, we hope to inspire, motivate and encourage you in your health and fitness goals, as you read the stories of everyday athletes making a difference in their own lives — and the lives of others.
Deaf since birth, fitness trainer Anne Reuss doesn’t see limitations. Instead, she sees the opportunity to sweat — and motivate others to do the same. In her eyes, fitness provides everyone the chance to be vulnerable, no matter what you’re facing physically, professionally or personally. And that opens the door to improvement.
“It’s a profound journey and one that I’m proud to be on,” she says. “Life will dole out frustrations. But there can be purpose behind it, if you allow it.”
Reuss says she goes to work with a deep hunger for making her clients a little better than they were the last time she saw them, and that same drive helps her, too. You’ll find her training for tough Spartan races, hiking on volcanoes or mountain biking in the winter in Colorado.
Being deaf has never stopped her from relentlessly achieving her goals, and she hopes other people will see her as an example of resilience and willpower. If that inspires them to work a little harder and push past their own mental blocks, she feels she’s done her job.
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GEEKING OUT ON FITNESS
Although Reuss started her career as a marketing professional, it wasn’t long before the 28-year-old Chicagoan decided to switch to fitness. She’d been working out more often while going to college, and the more she exercised, the more relentless and confident she felt.
Getting a job at a climbing gym, she first felt terrified, but exhilarated, to start climbing herself, and then realized how much she could help others as well.
Reuss decided to become a personal trainer, not just because she loved how it felt to “geek out” on fitness and mental strength but also because she felt frustrated with a lack of empathy she’d seen throughout her life. She knew other people who were deaf or hard of hearing tended to avoid the gym, feeling nervous about being judged.
In December 2015, she earned her credentials and eventually started working at Equinox, where she continually fine-tunes her approach to personal training.
“Fitness is a unique medium of communication,” she says. “My deafness allows me to be a better listener and communicator, and the client is faced with less distractions working with me since it requires more effort, in a positive way.” The client can learn to focus, she says, and that makes a big difference when it comes to training.
Reuss’ Instagram handle is @liftlivelead, a nod toward how she lives her own life, and how she believes others can harness their own sense of resilience and motivation.
First you lift, she says, which might mean literally lifting weights, but also lifting yourself up emotionally and psychologically, to a point where you understand the need for change. Then, you can live well and, ultimately, build confidence to lead the life you want.
“I always strive to do my best and pursue the greatness I know lives within me, and fitness is the way to unlock the door,” she says. “I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror at the end of each day and know that I did all I could to win the day, then repeat again.”
We all have different challenges, she says. For some, it may be a physical condition others perceive as limiting. Reuss knows plenty about that. But she keeps her “tank full of relentlessness,” and that’s led to becoming a model for others to follow.
“I want to be a guide post for others, because they do that for me,” she notes. “I’ve found my inner fire and want to keep it lit. I’m excited to help others do the same.”